By Tyler Allen EBS Managing Editor
BIG SKY – A stolen vehicle from Billings was swapped for another in Belgrade, before police chased the suspect to Big Sky, with the pursuit eventually ending in a collision near the entrance to Big Sky Resort.
At approximately 7:30 a.m. this morning, a woman in Belgrade started her car, went back inside her home, and when she returned outside her vehicle was gone, according to Capt. Don Peterson with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office. Belgrade police officers arrived on the scene to find another vehicle left running nearby and determined that vehicle had been stolen in Billings.
A Montana Highway Patrol officer on the south side of Belgrade saw the stolen white sedan go past him and followed it onto Interstate 90 eastbound, when it proceeded to leave the interstate at the airport exit and proceed back to Jackrabbit Lane. Highway Patrol and Belgrade police officers pursued the suspect through Four Corners and Gallatin Gateway, when speeds approached 100 mph near the mouth of Gallatin Canyon, Peterson said.
At that point, officers determined that chasing the suspect at high speed through the canyon was too dangerous. “They discontinued the pursuit, notified Madison County, West Yellowstone, the Park Service, and Big Sky deputies,” Peterson said.
A Big Sky sheriff’s deputy located the suspect on Highway 191 near Buck’s T-4 Lodge, where the suspect turned around and drove up Lone Mountain Trail. Moonlight Basin security located the vehicle on the mountain and followed it back down Lone Mountain Trail, when law enforcement intercepted it again near Little Coyote Road. The suspect turned around, speeding up Lone Mountain Trail with officers in pursuit.
Just below the entrance to Big Sky Resort, the vehicle took a sharp curve wide and a Highway Patrol vehicle accelerated to pass and get in front of the suspect. As the officer was passing, the suspect rammed the patrol car, Peterson said. The stolen vehicle spun out, two of its tires went flat and it hit the guardrail before coming to a stop.
One suspect was in the vehicle, but couldn’t be identified at the time of the arrest, and was taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center for booking.